BILLINGS - A Billings doctor will receive a humanitarian award in Chicago a week from Saturday.
He's been traveling to South America to work with doctors and patients.
Dr. John Gregory, a Billings Clinic general and thoracic surgeon, will soon receive the award for his work in South America. He says that award comes about from his bond with people at Billings Clinic and in Bolivia.
Gregory first learned about the group Solidarity Bridge while searching the internet.
"It seemed like just the ticket for me," said Gregory. "I love South America. I wanted to experience mission work."
Since then he has brought his surgical skills to Bolivia 10 times over the last 13 years.
"When we consider modern surgery and we were able to supply them with enough of those materials that they could get going," he said. "But more importantly, we were able to help them mentor them to the first dozens of these operations."
"Our aim is to increase the capacity of the local medical communities there and help more and more of the surgeons there gain more and more skills so that they can help more and more patients who need them," said Ann Rhomberg, Solidarity Bridge executive director.
Rhomberg talked about her organization giving the Solidarity Award to Gregory.
"It's someone who has demonstrated immense commitment of personal volunteer time," she said. "In his case, medical supply donations and financial support as well. But the other dimension to the award is someone who really has the character of solidarity and working in mutuality. And John really is that type of person. He knows that we're all here to help each other and to learn from our experiences and be enriched by that. And he just embodies all of that very well, talk about what we've done and the lessons we've learned."
And it's something the Bolivian doctors and nurses also appreciate
"They always love it when Dr. Gregory's planning to come because they know that he's a very respectful and wise learned surgeon that they will feel comfortable with and learn a lot from," Rhomberg said.
"Sort of a character builder because you're forced to slow down," Gregory said. "Consider your moves. Take nothing for granted. And that truly has been a growth experience for me."
Gregory will receive the award at the Solidarity Bridge Fiesta Gala in Chicago on April 2.